You’ve probably seen those quotes on social media news feeds warning of the dangers of sticking to the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ approach.

Many of us like to think it’s an approach we don’t take because we want to be innovative, creative and think differently. We’re prepared to break the mould; think outside the box; stand out from the crowd.

However, when it comes to our public relations and marketing efforts, most of us stick to the tried and true. We don’t take chances on investing time, resources and money on ideas that haven’t got points on the board for delivering ROI. Even when using a new(ish) platform such as social media, we mostly stick to what we know works rather than taking an experimental approach.

Unfortunately, this safety-first attitude also increases the risk of not getting noticed. We live in a busy society with hordes of people and businesses trying to get our attention every day. Unless we are prepared to ‘do it differently’ our efforts are largely overlooked.

That’s why I was pleased to notice one Geelong institution is walking the talk. The Gordon, our 129 year-old technical college, is realigning its PR and marketing to grab attention from traditional and new markets. The dodecagenarian is giving itself a new lease of life by showing how it can help others realign their lives.

Their Backyard Rescue initiative caught my attention. Involving local radio station, BayFM, it used the familiar garden makeover concept but with a twist. Instead of TV personalities and qualified tradespeople, the makeover was completely undertaken by students from GTEC. Not only did one lucky household get a new garden, but it also highlighted the skills and enthusiasm of GTEC’s students. You can check out The Gordon’s Facebook page to see how they went.

The Gordon marketing manager, Raelene Woods, explained the competition was a good way to reach various audiences beyond their traditional school leaver market, including potential mature age students, people considering a career change or wanting to expand their skills. It also enabled them to target parents of school leavers to help them make their next study decision.

The Gordon realises the training provider industry sector is very competitive and needs fresh approaches to stand out. As such, it’s also opening a new shopfront for its Skills and Jobs Centre in Westfield Geelong in October. It’s another stage in the process of connecting with the community by going to where people are rather than expecting people to come to them.

The Gordon’s approach is a smart one. They have obviously given serious thought to who their markets are and where they are. They’ve also realised your marketing messages have to be less about yourself and more about your audience if you want to cut through the noise.

Nowadays, it’s as much about being remembered as being seen. Businesses and organisations with the most distinct PR and marketing ideas will be the most memorable.

Move beyond inspirational quotes and staff photos on social media if you want to be noticed. Instead, consider how to be more creative to reach out to your markets in the real world. Rather than mirroring what your competitors are doing, reflect on how to differentiate yourself from to them.

Therefore, now is the time to change the way you communicate and become a genuine PR and marketing innovator.

This article was originally published in Geelong Business News.